(WLOS) — Mission Hospital has reported an increase in animal bite victims coming into the ER. In April, there have been nine cases, three of which were dog bites. Two of those patients were bitten in Asheville on Tuesday.
One of them was 42-year-old Millis Bryson, of Raleigh, who was bit as headed into one of his favorite watering holes in Asheville’s South Slope. He said as he walked into Dalton Distillery, two dogs, who were off leash, ran up and began biting him. Bryson received a bite on his left thumb that required stitches. The gash was so bad, he said, he began bleeding profusely, as a second dog, belonging to the same owner, began biting his stomach.
“The black one jumped up on me first,” Bryson said. “But the white one came and went straight for my stomach.”
Bryson immediately began video taping both dogs that were clearly seen running around in the bar.
Asheville had a dog-leash ordinance that states any dog in a public place, which would include bars, must be on leashes.
Bryson is clearly heard speaking to the dogs' owner after the attack. The man said his name was Zach, and he was heard apologizing. But, Bryson said what he needs to have is verification the man’s dogs have had rabies shots.
Bryson said the owner of Dalton Distillery texted him a photo of the dog owner’s Facebook page. However, that owner did not return News 13’s requests for comment.
Bryson said the bar owner knows Zach’s last name because it’s written in a ledger patrons sign when they come in. The full name is clearly written in the ledger, and Bryson snapped a picture of it.
The Asheville Police Department only stated the dog owner’s first name in a news release asking for the public’s help in finding the man.
“I’m really worried because I’m diabetic,” said Bryson, who also had wounds on his arm and abdomen.
“He had a significant bite to his extremity, enough to where it required some suturing,” said Dr. Chris Flanders, Mission’s emergency department medical director. “Dog bites of this nature have a tendency to become infected.”
Bryson, who has no medical insurance, said he’s been told the round of rabies shots could cost him between $5,000-$10,000.
“This is my life,” Bryson said. “I don’t want to die. I don’t have that kind of money, but what choice do I have. People are trying to help me. I don’t have much time left to find out if the dogs have rabies, because of the incubation stage.”
As for the cost for the shots, Flanders said rabies vaccinations can end up costing a patient without insurance plenty.
“The pharmaceutical industry has certainly kept the cost of these immunizations quite high,” Flanders said.
Deremer on Friday said he was going to forego getting what is known as a painful series of rabies shots. He said his doctor advised him it’s rare for dogs to have rabies, and that more often it’s wild animals.
However, Bryson, because of his diabetes, is afraid to take that chance. He hopes someone, even anonymously, calls Asheville police, to help him avoid the expensive shots.
“The police are trying to hunt down the dogs, so I don’t have to get a rabies shot,” Bryson said. “I’m really worried.”